Irish fisherman activist imprisoned for opposing Shell

13 Feb 2010 admin

For 11 years the people of County Mayo in Ireland have been resisting Shell’s efforts to develop a dangerous high pressure raw gas pipeline. Pat O’Donnell, a prominent local fisherman and anti-Shell campaigner defending his family and livelihood has been sentenced to 7 months in jail. Retired Maura Harrington was also convicted of charges including obstruction of the Shell site and damage to a Shell net on the cliff face at Glengad. Shell illegally placed the net there to stop sandmartins from nesting. This is yet another example of Shell’s criminalisation of members of the Rossport community, aided and abetted by the Irish state.

Pat, known locally as “The Chief”, has been central to resisting Shell’s plans on the sea. Now that he is imprisoned, Shell are moving ahead fast with their offshore plans.

The offshore Environmental Management Plan (EMP) gives details of Shell’s plans to lay concrete and rock over and around the off shore Corrib gas pipeline laid last year to fasten it in place. According to the plans, survey work would be carried out during March and April, with the massive concrete and rock placing operation lasting from May right through to September.

Ominously, the plan spells out Shell’s continued disregard for the local fishing community’s incontrovertible legal and traditional right to fish in Broadhaven Bay: “Fishing activites will be restricted in the construction corridor, during marine construction activities.”

A cursory glance at the map of the proposed route of the investigation up the estuary shows that there is no way through for a high pressure raw gas pipeline without placing homes and lives in danger. It seems that Shell has been given carte blanche for the offshore works, but the company still requires a foreshore licence to survey and drill the boreholes in the estuary.

Often it is the survey work that can be most damaging to whales, dolphins, seals and other mammals. Ultrasonic testing can damage their hearing and even cause death. This week a group of dolphins came into the bay. Instead of keeping its distance, a Shell speedboat made straight for them. Be it out of incompetence or ill-will, Shell employees cannot be trusted to obey their own environmental management plans, and Shell management cannot be trusted to enforce them.

Shell’s offshore Environmental Management Plan (EMP) for 2010 is up on the Department of Energy website.

solidarity protest for Pat O’Donnell has been called for Saint Patrick’s day outside the Irish Embassy in London.

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